Stress Management With The Alexander Technique
Stress is an unavoidable fact of life. Unpleasant situations, jam-packed schedules and difficult people test our resiliency on a daily basis. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can learn to modify our response to adversity. The Alexander Technique can help us to cultivate the essential skill of stress management.
The cushy job we didn’t get… the rude neighbor who won’t turn her stereo down…the sudden and severe illness of a loved one…these and a hundred other difficulties are almost inevitable. Some people seem to thrive amidst these difficulties, while others fall into a major depression. Their very different outcomes beg the question: What determines the impact of stress on each person’s well being?
Learning About Our Habitual Reactions to Stressful Situations Can Help Us
The Greek philosopher Epictetus famously said, “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that counts.” Since the truth of this statement is self evident, we should all make a point of learning to recognize our own harmful reactions. And because the next step is also self evident, we should all learn to refrain from our own harmful reactions as much as possible. Fortunately, the Alexander Technique can be invaluable in helping us to recognize and avoid our harmful reactions.
The Alexander Technique Can Help Us Recognize and Change Harmful Habits
During Alexander Technique lessons, we get to know ourselves on a simple and profound level. In particular, we get to know our own habits. This knowledge is a fundamental part of stress management, because our reactions to stressful people and situations are largely habitual. Awareness of our habitual reactions is the first step toward positive choices. Importantly, this includes the choice of how (or if) we want to react to stress. It’s no accident that F.M. Alexander called his Technique “The study of human reaction.”
In the AT, we learn about our habits, and we learn to stop enacting the habits we don’t want. So, if we react to getting stuck in the subway by fuming and glaring at our fellow passengers, we learn to recognize the futility of that habit and to gradually stop doing it. Or, if we habitually react to not getting the job we want by heaping criticism and blame on ourselves, we learn to see how corrosive this behavior is to our self esteem. After declining to repeat our habit of beating ourselves up, we then can make a more beneficial and conscious choice.